Love him or hate him, Simon Cowell has made an undeniable impression on the pop cultural landscape as a music executive and both a television personality and producer. One of his most successful music acts is the operatic pop group Il Divo, a multinational quartet of male singers that melds The Three Tenors with a boy band. After a worldwide search that took two years, the members are pop singer Sébastien Izambard from France, baritone Carlos Marín from Spain, and tenors Urs Bühler from Switzerland and David Miller from the United States. They hit the top of the charts the world over with their self-titled debut album in 2004 and have had similar success with subsequent releases. The worldwide acclaim is due in part to the fact that they sing in English, Italian, Spanish, French, and Latin.
'An Evening with' finds Il Divo on tour in support of their 2008 album "The Promise" performing at Palau Sant Jordi in Barcelona, Spain on April 3rd, 2009. The set list covers four of their studio albums, naturally skipping their Christmas collection, and two bonus songs never before recorded by them, Simon & Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water" and "The Impossible Dream" from the musical "Man of La Mancha."
The stage set-up is simple. There are three levels connected by stairs on which changing colored lights face the audience. On the lower level, the orchestra that accompanies Il Divo is separated into two units on each side of a set of stairs. Also, a circular walkway branches out from the stage, allowing the men to get closer to the audience and some lucky fans who get to sit in the pit. Rear projection screens project various images throughout night. There are also subtle costume changes throughout.
This was my first introduction to the band and I was impressed. They are very good at what they do. Opening with "Somewhere" from "West Side Story," the power of all four voices is immediately apparent, as is their operatic training. Their multilinguistic approach can be heard with the next selection, a Spanish version of Diane Warren's "Unbreak My Heart" (Regresa A Mi)," which was a hit song in English for Toni Braxton. Many of the songs not sung in English are covers of very popular hits, such as ABBA's "The Winner Takes It All (Va Todo Al Ganador)," The Righteous Brothers' "Unchained Melody (Senza Cantene)," and Frank Sinatra's "My Way (A Mi Manera)," Their meanings are always evident by the way the men clearly evoke the songs' emotions.
Throughout the evening, many of the songs feature similar arrangements, so if you like one, you'll like the set. Restrained, straightforward performances by the orchestra are matched with the singers regularly showing off the power of their voices. One of the few alterations was the inclusion of an electric guitar on their cover of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah (Aleluya)" in Spanish.
"Il Divo" is Italian for "divine male performer," which is an apt description if the female audience members' reactions are used as a gauge. During the Moody Blues' "Nights in White Satin (Notte Del Luce)" sung in Italian, a number of ladies with floor seats rush the stage to take pictures, leave flowers, and a special few exchange touches. Frequently throughout the night, women are seen crying and swooning from the power of the performances.
There are two numbers where missteps are made. During "Amazing Grace", they wander around the walkway signing autographs and shaking hands, losing the song's solemnity. A bagpiper came out, but I couldn’t see a microphone and he didn't mesh well with the orchestra, so I wondered if he was playing live. The dynamic performance on "Bridge Over Troubled Water" is markedly different from Garfunkel's lone, plaintive vocal. The power of their singing diminishes the power of the song.
On the whole, fans of Il Divo and the operatic pop genre will enjoy spending 'An Evening with' them.
The video is presented with a 1080i/ MPEG-4 AVC transfer that is free from defect and artifact.
The blacks are well rendered, deep and inky, without crush, as different planes can be clearly identified. The stage lights deliver a limited palette of white, blue, pink and yellow, but hues are well saturated. Skintones stay consistent throughout.
The images are very sharp and the picture delivers very good contrast throughout. In long shots that contain the audience, a great many of the individual members are clearly defined. In close-ups, facial features and strands of hair are distinct. Creases can be seen in clothing and sweat on their brows. Even small bits of confetti and dust at times are distinct as they flutter through the air. Depth is apparent no matter the type of shot.
The first time Il Divo join their voices together in full power on the DTS-HD MA 5.1 track, it hits the listener with an impressive energy.
Combined with the music and audience sound, the vocals subtly envelope the listener through the surrounds. The subwoofer supports the bass quite nicely. As the singers move about the stage, they move through channels as well. The elements are balanced well, which is to be expected from a concert performance. Although there are few soft moments, dialogue to the audience in attendance and brief parts of the arrangements, the dynamic range is wide and it is clear no matter what end of the spectrum.
The sound team did a masterful job with this disc.
On this evening in Barcelona, Il Divo demonstrate their considerable talents, and the Blu-ray does an exquisite job presenting them. Their fans should be very happy with the result as the quartet covers their catalog. For the curious, 'An Evening with' is an excellent entry point for learning about Il Divo. This is worth a rental.